The History of Antifa

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Antifa Thugs Facts
Antifa Thugs Facts

Although the term Antifa may be relatively new to many people in the U.S., as an organization its many composite factions stretch far back. All of these factions have contributed to the history of Antifa. They strive to project an image of being disorganized because that’s what has always worked for this type of organization. They do not wish to be seen as a secret society such as the Illuminati. Such would lead them to be seen as kooks rather than randomly angry youth.

The pro-Antifa website CrimethInc puts it this way, “This leaderless format has proven effective for guerrilla activities of all kinds, as well as what the RAND Corporation calls “swarming” tactics in which many unpredictable autonomous groups overwhelm a centralized adversary. You should go to every demonstration in an affinity group, with a shared sense of your goals and capabilities. If you are in an affinity group that has experience taking action together, you will be much better prepared to deal with emergencies and make the most of unexpected opportunities.” Swarming notifications are regularly transmitted on social media, who are glad to do their bidding.

Regardless of whether you believe that they have a kind of central organizing structure or not, one thing is certain — they have habitually convened en masse to protest, burn, loot, and beat up opponents, journalists, and bystanders. They may not be directly getting marching orders from Obama’s shadow government, but to some extent their goals are the same.

Early Origins of Anti-Fascism

They initially took form during during the street-fights of the 1932 Weimar Republic and called themselves Antifaschisitsche Aktion. The Stalinist Communist Party of Germany (KPD) formed them. This wasn’t the KDP’s first foray into this arena; various Communist “anti-fascist defense” organizations were associated with the KPD much earlier. Under the KPD their task was to fight other political parties to gain control of the streets in the revolutionary politics held by the rapidly failing Weimar Republic.

Ostensibly, their directive was to fight the Nazis but their role was malleable; they also sought conflict with liberals, conservatives, and any other opposition that presented itself. They were a tool of their masters. As today, the very definition of idealistic, useful idiots.

As that struggle floundered and the movement faded away and, these radicals also melted into the background. But in the early 1980s, they resurfaced Germany. This time they fashioned themselves in the image of Communist urban guerilla units of ’70s and ’80s like Red Army Faction and the Red Brigade who operated in Europe. The central ideology this time was autonomism. Autonomist Marxism focuses on the ability of the working class to impose changes to the organization of the capitalist system independent of the state, trade unions or political parties.

Antifa in the United States

When the Antifa movement came to America, it began as an effort of young punks to expel neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the music culture. This coalesced into the Anti-Racist Action (ARA). Surprisingly, it started in the Midwest rather than on the more liberal east or west coast, and once established, spread outward. Soon chapters formed in numerous cities, and regional councils and networks were conceived. Notably, one was called the Midwest Anti-Fascist Network (MAFN), founded in 1995.

Some members of the ARA were the remnants of the domestic terror group Weather Underground. Guiding the young anti-racist punks in the formation of the ARA were members from the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee (JBAKC). Some separate ARA units endeavored to put together one of the largest Antifa networks in the country called Torch Antifa.

JBAKC itself was conceptualized as a front for the May 19th Communist Organization (MCO). This organization was founded from what remained of the Weather Underground, Black Liberation Army, the FALN, and various other terrorist groups that formed in the ’60s and ’70s. How appropriate that the date May 19 was picked for the name. That was the birthday of both Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh.

The central philosophy of both JBAKC and the May 19th Communist Organization is the same which Antifa embraces today: at its core the belief that the U.S. was founded on white supremacy, and therefore needs to be destroyed.

The Antifa Movement Today

Earlier we mentioned Antifa’s loose but well-connected organizational structure. The primary units are called “affinity groups.” Moving up the structure, multiple affinity groups form “clusters” of affinity groups. A member of any one affinity group can be a member of other radical left organizations. Protocol allows them to call upon them for assistance. Antifa thugs are likely to have connections with political organizations that support Antifa committees. Examples are the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), The International Workers of the World (Wobblies), and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). Antifa accepts resources and recruits from them as needed.

Now that we know the history of Antifa, the question remains — what will its future bring? Already both Congress and local political bodies are assimilating their supporters. The Democrats have become so polarized that they have developed a tunnel vision of hate and rage, manifested by three years of trying to impeach President Trump rather that doing any meaningful work. Large capitalist companies have “taken a knee” to Antifa and removed their brand identities. The thugs are now in charge.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

A History of American Medical Insurance

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Medicare health insurance card and benefits
Medicare health insurance card and benefits

Today we are surrounded by so much high-tech medical apparatuses and procedures that we take them for granted. For example I recently had laparoscopic inguinal (groin) hernia surgery. No scalpel slashing, just 3 punctures. All the work was done microscopically and I was on my feet withing 3 hours.

But it wasn’t always that way. More than 90% of commonly-accepted medicine did not even exist in the 1950s. One of the consequences is that people, average people, not just the monied upper-crust, are living longer. A greater understanding about things like controlling high blood pressure adds years and quality of life.

The Cost of Modern Medicine

It should come as no surprise that all this progress comes with a cost. In fact, it has been rising faster than any other expenditure when looked at on a national level. Flash back if you will to 1930–we spent $2.8 billion on health care. That equates to 3.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) or only $23 per person.

In 2015 that rose to $3 trillion. That’s $9,536 per person or 15% of GDP. During the 1980s medical expenditures rose by 117%. Of that, 43% can be attributed to inflation. 10% can be attributed to the rise in population and longer life expectancy. 23% was due to new technology, medicines, and treatment innovations. The remaining 24% is due to another instance of inflation that resides totally within the medical community. This last number tells us that there is a lack of oversight and cost transparency. There is no financial propping up as with the banking, agricultural, and auto-building industries.

The Transformation of Hospitals

It was only in the 1850s that the medical community realized that diseases were caused by microorganisms. This became known as the germ theory of disease and it was indeed revolutionary. It led to research that was to begin to focus on preventative rather than just curative treatment. Rabies was banished from human population in 1885. Diphtheria and whooping cough were brought under control. When milk began to be pasteurized the death rate of children went from 125.1/thousand to 15.8/thousand in 1925.

In 1873 hospitals, of which there were only 149 in the country, were more like hospices; the poor and and deathly-ill went there to die; those institutions were little more than petri dishes, not at all sanitary. But that changed because of the changes brought about by germ theory.

By 100 years later the number of hospitals had increased to over 7,000 and their role had morphed into medical research and clinical medicine. Exciting times. But… they cost a lot to operate and the number of patients could not be reliably estimated. The solution? Late in the 1920s hospital insurance was introduced in Dallas, Texas to stabilize cash flow. For a premium of $6 per year Baylor University Hospital would provide 21 days of care to subscribers.

Soon other hospitals adopted this model and formed confederations so that patients could choose a treatment facility. This was the business model for Blue Cross which launched in California in 1932. These were rudimentary insurance plans; they did not include co-pays or deductions, just fixed premiums meant to stabilize cash flow. One consequence is that patients gravitated toward hospital stays (expensive) rather than outpatient treatments (cheaper).

This insurance was paid directly to the hospital and not to the individual. This eliminated any opportunity to “shop around.” Since the money was not coming itemized out of the patient’s pocket, why should he or she care what the price tag was?

The Government Fails to Regulate Medical Insurance

During the mid to late 30s Blue Cross was spreading rapidly. The states moved to try to regulate them to the same standards as other types of “insurance.” But the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association lobbied to be exempt, claiming an exception due to operating on a non-profit basis. The IRS agreed and ruled that they were also exempt from federal taxation. Blue Cross and other insurance companies emerging in the field operated on a cost-plus basis. Now there was zero incentive to control costs an strive for efficiency.

Hospitals began to compete not on price but by wooing doctor referrals. Doctors were being paid “reasonable and customary” charges. If Dr. C began charging a bit more, Dr. A and Dr. B would follow suit and the standard of “reasonable and customary” inched up. No oversight.

The Modern Medical Insurance Paradigm

When World War II drew us in, two things happened. One, the labor market got tighter since more workers enlisted in the military. Two, price and wage controls were implemented. In order to attract the best employees, companies began offering employer-paid health insurance as a fringe benefit which the IRS recognized as a business expense.

The National Labor Relations Board imposed collective bargaining on health insurance plans so unions began to demand more and more, driving prices up. But a consequence was that the patient became further distanced from the medical system and they lost many choices; one must take what is offered.

In 1965 the government waded into the medical market with Medicaid and Medicare. Initially, hospitals and doctors resisted but when they began to reap the dividends they quickly changed their tune. Now state governments largely controlled the purse strings of most major hospitals and thus could influence policy.

More recently a major factor in driving up medical costs is litigation. Medical malpractice suits have exploded. Cases have increased by a 1:300 ratio in the years from 1969 to 1990 alone. A special class of lawyers have even emerged to take advantage of this low-hanging fruit; these are your ambulance-chasers and your class-action law firms where actual plaintiffs make pennies while the lawyers walk away with the bulk of the settlements.

This short history of American medical insurance should serve to put things into perspective as we have a national debate over how it really should be handled. Should we stay on our present course or model our system on Britain or Canada? Should we believe in a socialist “free for all” system as Bernie Sanders advocates? (Hint: there’s no such thing as free.) Should we adopt an Obamacare model complete with a Jacobin death panel? This will continue to be an evolving national debate.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

What is a Brokered Convention During a Presidential Primary?

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Preparing for a brokered convention
Preparing for a brokered convention

A brokered convention is also called an open convention and is closely related to, but not the same as, a contested convention. It can happen during a presidential election any time a political party fails to choose a nominee on the first round of delegate voting at the party’s nominating convention . Once the initial ballot or vote has happened, and no one candidate has garnered a majority of the delegates’ votes, the convention is then considered to be in brokered status; thereafter the nomination is finalized via a process of alternating political horse trading (superdelegate vote trading), and additional re-votes.

What are Superdelegates?

According to Merriam-Webster, a superdelegate, or super-delegate if you prefer, is “a person who is chosen as a delegate to a political party’s presidential nominating convention because of his or her status as a leader or official within the party and who is free to vote for any candidate regardless of the results of the popular vote in primary elections and caucuses preceding the convention. They were invented by the Democrats after the 1980 election in the expectation that in any future close nomination race, they would line up behind the establishment candidate and head off the possibility of a ruinous floor fight at the convention.”

As of this writing there has been much speculation of a brokered convention because there are still so many candidates on the Democrat side. At the moment Bernie Sanders is the top dog with a Democrat Socialist message but that could change at any moment.

The History of Brokered Conventions

From a historical point of view, before primary elections, brokered conventions happened often. This was especially of the Democrat party. But then after the advent of television ads and modern-style presidential campaigns, few brokered conventions have happened on the Republican side, due to increased voter participation, even though a couple of occurrences of contested conventions have happened. The last real brokered convention occurred in 1952, between Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Sen. Robert Taft.

A contested convention is the first step to a brokered convention. This effectively means that no one candidate has reached the national convention with a majority of delegates. When that happens, at the convention, a vote is held.

The Republican’s last contested convention battle was in 1976 when Ronald Reagan attempted and failed to remove the incumbent Gerald Ford from the ticket after Ford failed to secure enough delegates to earn the nomination. Prior to that, a contested convention nearly occurred in 1960 when Nelson Rockefeller was competing against Richard Nixon.

So that’s what a brokered convention is. As much as voters of the losing party always laments the seeming folly of the electoral college, the brokered convention is just another step removed from the will of the people and should be avoided when at all possible.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Trey Gowdy on Trump’s Expected Impeachment Trial

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Harold Watson “Trey” Gowdy III is an American lawyer, television news authority, politician, and former federal prosecutor. He served as the U.S. Representative for South Carolina from 2011 to 2019. His home district included much of the upstate area of South Carolina, which includes Greenville as well as Spartanburg. In this video he discusses with Sean Hannity the Democrat’s ill-conceived impeachment attempt of President Donald Trump. The chances of any of this holding up in the Supreme Court border on nil.

Gowdy never lost a case as a prosecutor. During the House impeachment proceedings the Democrats were unable to find even one fact witness, only hearsay witnesses. It certainly looks like mighty thin ice.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Impeachment in the United States: What is It?

President Bill Clinton Impeached Newspaper Headline
President Bill Clinton Impeached Newspaper Headline

The details of impeachment of government officials varies from country to country. This article will confine itself to how to process proceeds in the United States.

Impeachment, from Dictionary.com:

noun

  • The impeaching of a public official before an appropriate tribunal.
  • (In Congress or a state legislature) the presentation of formal charges against a public official by the lower house, trial to be before the upper house.
  • Demonstration that a witness is less worthy of belief.
  • The act of impeaching.
  • The state of being impeached.

    So, the popular assumption that impeachment means removal from office is simply not true. Rather, it is analogous to an indictment in criminal law, and so it is essentially a statement of charges against the official in question. Impeachment at the federal level is limited to those who may have committed “Treason, Bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors .”

    Article One of the United States Constitution gives the House of Representatives the single power of impeachment. The Senate’s responsibility is to try impeachments of officers of the U.S. federal government. On a state level, state constitutions include like measures which allow the state legislature to impeach the governor or other officials of the state government.

    If an official is impeached, he or she then faces a second legislative vote. This vote determines conviction, or failure to convict, on the charges specified by the impeachment. It is notable that this process does not involve the Supreme Court.

    Presidential Impeachment History in the United States

    As of this writing only two US presidents have been impeached. The first was Andrew Johnson. It began to unfold on February 24, 1868, when the House of Representatives resolved to impeach Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of these United States. Specifically, the allegations were high crimes and misdemeanors which were spelled out in eleven articles of impeachment. The main charge against Johnson was the violation of the Tenure of Office Act. This had been passed by Congress in March 1867 despite his veto. Why? He had removed Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, from office. The act had been designed to protect Stanton and to replace him with Brevet Major General Lorenzo Thomas.

    The second impeachment was President Bill Clinton. It was initiated on October 8, 1998 when the United States House of Representatives voted to begin the impeachment proceedings against Clinton who was the 42nd president of the United States for high crimes and misdemeanors. Specifically, the charges were lying under oath and obstruction of justice.

    Currently, the United States House of Representatives is holding hearings on the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump.


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    About the author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


  • History of and Rationale for the Electoral College

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    Electoral College Results for the 2016 Election
    Electoral College Results for the 2016 Election

    With the 2020 presidential election campaigns looming, it’s a good idea to take a look at what the electoral college is and what it isn’t. Typically, following the election, the losers go on a frenzy crying, “It’s not fair! Abolish it!” Well, until the next time it helps them win. Then, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. This latest time, it is the liberal left that are gnashing teeth and rending garments.

    A Brief History of the Electoral College

    When the founders were working out the details of national sovereignty and the Constitution in 1787, the question of how to elect the president was a contentious issue. In fact, it was one of the last issues to finalize.

    Some of the suggestions seem downright bizarre today. The Virginia Plan opined that the National Executive should, “be chosen by the National Legislature.” James Wilson of Pennsylvania was more rational by favoring a popular election. Another suggestion put forth recommended that the election be determined by the Senate alone.

    The next day Wilson suggested that districts be created where popular elections would be held to choose electors. These electors would then alone determine the next executive. Later, Elbridge from Massachusetts opined that only state governors have a vote. James Madison preferred a popular vote but was concerned that heavily-populated states would hold an unfair advantage. Therefore, he surmised that a committee with one representative from each of the eleven states should elect the President. That’s the electoral college as it went into the Constitution.

    That is what many of the frenzy-criers do not realize; we do not actually directly vote for the president directly, we vote for electors to represent us. If we really had a popular vote, the voters in states like North Dakota would not have a say at all but California certainly would. In my humble opinion that would be a bad idea; most of the rest of the country isn’t as ready for Democratic Socialism as the west coast is.

    Advantages of the Electoral College

    The election is decentralized, that is, it takes place in individual states. The states have some say over how their voting process takes place. Some career politicians such as Elizabeth Warren oppose the college because she thinks the federal government should control the entire process and individual states should have no voice. So much for claiming to be for the common man and woman.

    Why is this important? For one thing, if an individual state wants a recount, they can do it. If the Feds had all the power, one state could trigger a national recount. What a mess that would be. Remember what a nightmare Florida was with the “hanging chads?” Imagine going through that with all the states.

    The electoral college also helps presidential candidates by giving them a way to organize their campaigns. They know the sway that each state has so they can plan how much time to spend campaigning there and how to allocate funds.

    Disadvantages of the Electoral College

    It can be a bit disheartening to think that individual votes don’t matter as much as we think they should. A faithless elector is one who has been chosen to represent their state in the electoral college but decides to cast a ballot against their state’s popular vote wishes. This has only happened a handful of times, but still.

    It can actually depress voter turnout. For example, in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton had a solid 15- to 20-point lead on Donald Trump in the polling several weeks prior to the election. The final outcome resulted in a difference of 16.2 points. For Republicans and Independents, casting a ballot could seem pointless because Clinton’s win seemed like a foregone conclusion.

    It may not accurately reflect the national popular will. This is the main complaint made by Democrats today. Although Hillary won the popular vote, Trump won by virtue of the designated electoral vote. In my opinion that was a blessing. This way we are getting a border wall. If Hillary had of won it would be a free-for-all at the open borders. But having the system or not is really a trade-off; without the election system we currently have, small states would consistently be disenfranchised.

    I hope this article on the history and rationale for the electoral college helps you as we roll into yet another presidential election cycle. If it did, pass it onto your friends. In the long run, every vote really does count, just not in the way some think it does.

    Lens.com

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    About the author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

    Was Obama the Worst US President?

    The Obama Presidency. Hope and Change?
    The Obama Presidency. Hope and Change?

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    Simply put, there are supporters and detractors of the work Barack Obama did during his two terms as president. The matter is extremely polarized. But it’s the facts that matter, not dogma or personal opinion. It takes a while for all these facts to come out. After all, his administration was never as transparent as he pledged it would be. President Obama’s legacy is fairly well fleshed out at this point. Let’s look at the hard facts.

    The White House Transparency Issue

    Obama told the American people, ” My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. “

    One of his campaign promises to meet this goal was to post all bills online for a full five days for review by citizens before he signed them. Sounds good, yes? But it only took nine days in office to break this “promise.” January 29, 2009: Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. No online posting.

    Next up? February 4, 2009: Obama signed the S-CHIP law. Again, nothing online. Reporters understandably were beginning to ask why not. The White House response? It’s “too difficult,” they said, but they were working on the issue. Apparently, the high-tech whiz-kids in the administration never could solve the mysteries of cut-n-paste or HTML or even user-friendly platforms like WordPress because NO legislation was EVER posted for the promised five day citizen reviews of any bill that passed the Oval Office desk. There was never even an attempt to allow citizens to participate in the process.

    As Sergeant Schultz Would Say, “I Know Nothing!”

    This was one of Obama’s most notable evasion of personal responsibility ploys, played over and over again. Despite the fact that he has access to all manner of classified material and daily briefings, he claimed to be unaware of things that happened that he had personal responsibility for and an obligation to be aware of.

    The list is impressive. The VA waiting list scandal? Fast and Furious? The Clinton email server? His DOJ stealing Associated Press phone records? His NSA spying on other world leaders? The IRS targeting conservative groups?

    Here is one embarrassing quote, “I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this,” Obama said in June 2013 when he was asked about the IRS scandal. “I think it was on Friday.”

    Living the Lavish Lifestyle on the Taxpayer Dime

    Nobody would deny that the job as the president is extremely stressful and demands some downtime. But there’s reasonableness and then there’s reasonableness. Whereas President Bush took time out to play golf about one hundred times, Obama treated himself over four hundred times!

    As long as we are making this distinction, it is important to note that Bush took trips to his personal property in Crawford. Almost always he continued to work while relaxing. Obama, on the other hand, tapped the taxpayers (many unemployed in a very down economy) to lavish retreats in places like Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii. That’s thirty eight vacations just by March, 2015.

    According to judicialwatch.org, “The known total expense to the American taxpayers thus far for all Obama travel is now $70,880,035.78! And of course at times it wasn’t even Obama himself decompressing. In 2010, Michelle Obama entitled herself and her entourage to a luxury vacation in Spain. The cost for that one trip alone ran up a taxpayer tab of $467,585. Thank you, Mr. and Ms. unemployed taxpayer.

    Then there was the “African Safari.” That one was $424,000. The twenty-day Hawaii vacation alone set the taxpayers back $4 million dollars. In 2013 alone? Obama averaged over one vacation every month. This included a trip to make an appearance and yuck it up on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. That’s a total of $7.4 million dollars for one year alone. And nothing was being done about creating jobs for citizens who were footing the bill. Nothing says, “I’m entitled” like this kind of narcissistic behavior, typical of the new breed of democratic socialists in America today.

    Questionable Ambassador Appointments

    It is no secret that in the world of politics ambassador appointments are made as a type of “reward.” The problem is that Obama took this practice to an unprecedented level and used it as his personal campaign cash-cow machine.

    In fact, prior to his second campaign, he took time to make up a special set of rules so big donors and bundlers would be clear about the process (if you expected an appointment after the election). Qualifications did not matter. Cash is king; show me the money.

    The rules were simple. Express your interest in more than one country. Ambassadors may only serve for only two years because there were so many big donors and jobs had to be found for all.

    The list was embarrassing. George Tsunis: nominated for Norway but didn’t even know what system of government they had. Max Baucus: nominated for China; admitted that he was “no real expert on China.” Caroline Kennedy: nominated for Japan; couldn’t speak Japanese, no foreign policy experience, knew absolutely nothing about the country. The list of incompetency goes on and on. Even a less-than-astute observer would suspect a thinly veiled game of job-selling.

    So was Obama the worst US president? That’s for each person to decide; I simply point out facts as they happened. We know that he gamed the system, circumvented the constitution many times, and treated the office as a permanent vacation while not getting any real work done. Even though the economy was stagnant under his administration, he blamed it all on Bush. He “inherited” it. But now that Trump’s economy is roaring, he takes credit, claiming that he laid the groundwork. He demonstrated a penchant for dismissing any sense of national sovereignty. His “apology tours” were embarrassing and cost us international credibility. History will judge.

    About the author:

    Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.



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    Troubled Times for Google

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    The Google Logo

    Social media sites are the mega-industries of this generation. They are high-tech with more storage and computational power than we could have dreamed of a mere twenty years ago. However, with enormous power comes enormous responsibility. In many cases, these social media powerhouses don’t police themselves and take on arrogant personalities. 

    Social Media Data Breaches

    Just recently it came to light that Facebook was using user’s personal information for financial gain, specifically to influence political outcomes. CEO Mark Zuckerburg was called on the carpet before Congress where he apologized, but of course his check had been cashed and the damage was done.

    But Facebook is not alone when it comes to handling user information. It has recently come to light that Google’s G+ app had left vulnerabilities wide open.  The software glitch gave outside developers possible access to private profile data of thousands of Google+ users.

    The fact that this happened is not particularly surprising. I used to be a software developer and it is just a fact that with thousands of lines of code, things slip through no matter how much testing is done. The problem with Google is that they chose to put the hush-hush on the data breach rather than  being up front with users and the media.

    Their solution? They plan to shut down G+. It’s a shame because myself, like many others, enjoy the platform. This, despite the fact that it sometimes takes some wading through a sea of anti-Semite activists, antifa thugs, and pornographers.

    Irresponsible Employees Given a Pass

    This is another example of shameful corporate positions. Just recently,  Dave Hogue,  a design lead at Google, has slammed Republicans in an angry Twitter rant over the nomination of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

    His Twitter rant?  “You are finished, @GOP. You polished the final nail for your own coffins. F–K. YOU. ALL. TO. HELL. I hope the last images burned into your slimy, evil, treasonous retinas are millions of women laughing and clapping and celebrating as your souls descend into the flames.” Google’s response?

    “What employees say in their personal capacity has no bearing on the way we build or operate our products,” a Google spokeswoman told Fox News, via email. In other words, even a design lead has no moral or personal responsibility to act as an adult and has leeway to post this garbage that is even viewable to children. Great corporate culture, Google. And did he post it on your company computer, on company time? Just hear crickets on that one.

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    Protection Against Information Harvesting

    Most social media is free to users which is one reason that antitrust regulations have not been brought to bear against them. They profit by profiling users, selling their personal data, and serving up targeted ads. But there are ways users can protect their privacy.

    Don’t be completely honest in your profiles. Change your birth date, location, employer, etc. Use the Tor browser to protect yourself from tracking. Use Privacy Badger to block spying ads and invisible trackers.

    The point of all this is not to invest in paranoia. The point is that as free citizens we deserve and are entitled to privacy. We are people, not commodities. It is just as important as our home security.


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    The Rational Bible: Exodus; a Book Review

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    The Rational Bible: Exodus (ISBN 978-1-62157-772-0) is the first book in a series authored by religious scholar and talk show host Dennis Prager. Rather than starting with the first book of the Torah (Old Testament or the first five books of the Bible) he begins with Exodus.

    Why Begin with the Book of Exodus?

    Why not begin at the beginning? Good question. The Book of Genesis is the first book and it would seem to be the place for Prager to start. But Exodus really gets to the meat of the matter. It encapsulates the essence of the message. As Prager says, “the Torah: because its central message–that God is good and demands that we be good–is the only belief that will enable us to make a good world.”

    It sounds simple and that is exactly what it is; it’s not rocket science. But, up until this point in human history religion had never embraced this simple concept. But this is what Exodus is all about. Monotheism and the system of commandments that are the foundation of a moral existence. Prager says the Ten Commandments are, “the most important moral code in world history, and the central moral code of the Torah.”

    Face It; Reading the Bible is Hard

    Most modern people have attempted to read the Bible and failed. The translations are ambiguous and the phrasing is cryptic. In this book, however, Prager does the hard work for us. He puts the actual passages in bold and then goes into excruciating detail to explain the meaning. He does so with reason, logic, and the experience of a life-long study of the material. It could be said that he takes a scientific approach to explain the mystical.

    Since he works from the Torah rather than one of the many Christian translations, and the fact that he is fluent in Hebrew (where words and phrases can have multiple meanings) his observations are likely the closest thing to reality that a layperson can hope to attain. After all, he has been teaching the Torah verse-by-verse for eighteen years.

    The Deeper Meaning of the Plagues Visited Upon Egypt

    Exodus of course means  the departure of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses. This was quite a process since the Pharaoh was reluctant to let all this free labor go. One might wonder why God did not just “make it happen” rather to instruct Moses to visit the Ten Plagues upon the Pharaoh and Egypt.

    God had to convince not only the Egyptians but also the Israelites that he was the one and only God. The Egyptians worshiped many nature Gods and each plague was directly connected with destroying the belief in one of them. 

    The first plague turned the Nile water into blood; so much for the Nile Gods. The second plague, that of the frog infestation, destroyed belief if the frog God and Goddess. So on and so forth.

    Moral Absolutes and Moral Relativism in Modern Society

    Sam Malone coined the phrase “the Godless Alt-Left” and while it might be primarily click-bait, it’s not far off the mark. The modern left has not only become an anything-goes cult but in a contradictory way has become the intolerant that trumpets the virtue of all-tolerant.

    Prager points out that moral truths by definition require God. Scientific truths can be proven or disproved but moral ones can’t. Why is murder wrong? Because it is right there in the Commandments. Keep in mind that there is a distinction between murder and killing which is where the opposition to capital punishment using a religious justification falls apart.

    A Book that Warrants Re-Reading

    While reading The Rational Bible: Exodus is revealing, instructive, and entertaining, there is so much food for thought in it that it is hard to digest it all in one setting. Like one of those favorite movies, you will find yourself asking, “How did I miss that the first time around?”

    This book contains important lessons on politics, morality, religion, history, philosophy, and the direction society is heading.


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    History of Labor Day

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    Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September in both the United States and Canada. Its purpose in America is to celebrate the contributions that everyday workers have made to the prosperity, strength, and well-being of the nation. It is also recognized as the unofficial last day of summer and a day to celebrate national sovereignty.

    Origins of Labor Day

    Although different labor groups and trade unionists proposed days to celebrate, eventually a September holiday called Labor Day was first proposed in the early 1880s. Alternate stories of the event’s origination exist.

    One popular belief is that the event originated in connection with a General Assembly of the Knights of Labor held in New York City in September of 1882. Concurrent with this clandestine Knights gathering, a public parade featuring various labor organizations was held on September 5 under the general organizers of the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York.

    Another belief holds that the idea of Labor Day was the brainchild of Peter J. McGuire who held the position of a vice president of the American Federation of Labor. He suggested the initial proposal in the spring of 1882. According to McGuire, on May 8, 1882, he offered a proposal to the fledgling Central Labor Union in New York City that a day be designated for a “general holiday for the laboring classes”. He further recommended that the occasion should commence with a street parade as a public demonstration of organized labor’s solidarity and strength followed by a picnic, to which participating local unions could sell tickets as a fundraiser.

    There is no dispute that in 1887 Oregon became the first state in the country to name Labor Day as an official public holiday. In 1894 it became an official federal holiday and thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day. Since then, all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories have recognized Labor Day as a statutory holiday.

    Is Labor Day the Same as May Day?

    May 1 is an internationally-recognized holiday and is known as May Day or International Worker’s Day. Is there a correlation between May Day and Labor Day? Not really. May Day is much more politically charged and has less of a flavor of worker’s accomplishments and more a flavor of Communist, Socialist, and Anarchist politics.

    In particular, President Grover Cleveland was one of the people concerned that a labor holiday held on May 1 would become an implicit commemoration of the Haymarket Affair and would strengthen socialist and anarchist movements that backed the May 1 commemoration around the globe.

    The Haymarket affair (also called the Haymarket massacre or Haymarket riot) was the violence that ensued after a bombing that took place at a labor demonstration on Tuesday, May 4, 1886, at the Haymarket Square in Chicago. It started as a peaceful rally supporting workers striking for an eight-hour day and in reaction to the killing of several workers the day before by the police. An unknown individual tossed a dynamite bomb at police as they worked to disperse the meeting. The bomb blast and following gunfire resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians; dozens of others were wounded.

    Labor Day Activities

    Like any federal holiday, it is not just another day off from work but it is also a time to relax and spend time with family and friends. Because of the nice weather at this time of year it is an opportunity for outdoor activities like barbecues, fun runs, and ball games.

    There are also many Labor Day sales since many school years have just begun or are about to begin. Many sporting events are coordinated around this day.  National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) teams usually play their first games that weekend and the National Football League (NFL) traditionally play their kickoff game the Thursday following Labor Day. The Southern 500 NASCAR auto race has been held on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina from 1950 to 2003 and since 2015.

    So whatever activities you choose to do on Labor Day, remember that actual labor is not one of them!


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